The Collegian
Monday, November 28, 2022

Students consider key issues as midterm candidates make final pitches

<p>Voting sign at the Jepson Alumni Center.</p>

Voting sign at the Jepson Alumni Center.

Virginia candidates are making their final pitches to voters including University of Richmond students on issues like inflation, crime, democracy and abortion ahead of midterm elections, with Election Day on Nov. 8. 

UR students said they are prioritizing issues including environmental sustainability and racism, with some students voting in their home districts and others choosing to vote in Virginia’s 4th District, where campus is located. Donald McEachin, a democrat, is very likely to win the race against Republican Ryan McAdams to represent the 4th district. 

All 11 of Virginia’s seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs, with the most competitive race being between Republican Jen Kiggans and Democrat Elaine Luria to represent Virginia’s second house district, according to FiveThirtyEight

Luria, the incumbent, has promised to protect the environment, expand affordable healthcare and grow the economy by supporting businesses, according to her campaign website. She is also the only Democrat in a competitive race to serve on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

The issue of protecting the environment is also important to first-year Katie Bloom. 

“Environmental sustainability and equality [are important],” she said. “Just making sure the world is kinder.”

First-year Leah Suggs said she cared deeply about solving climate change. Suggs also said that she was prioritizing education policy when deciding who to vote for — something Kiggans has focused on throughout the race. 

Kiggans, a former state senator, has promised to increase parental involvement in education, along with reducing inflation, bringing more jobs to Virginia, and increasing border security, according to her campaign website.

“I’m running to restore American strength; in our economy, at our border, in our communities including our children’s education and reducing crime, and on the world stage,” Kiggans said in a debate against Luria on Oct. 12. 

Both Kiggans and Luria were supported by 45% of respondents to a poll from Christopher Newport University, leaving 8% of likely voters in the district undecided. 

Voters who are interested in education also have the chance to pick new school board members in races across Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.  

Sophomore Jaime Wise said that she voted early, but was skeptical about the impact her vote would have in the less competitive district where she lives. 

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“I live in a safe district,” she said. “So I voted more sort of as a duty. I think if you have a vote, you should go and use it.”

Wise said she cared about the trustworthiness of the candidates, an issue that has been raised in another notable race between Democrat Spanberger and Republican Yesli Vega to represent Virginia’s 7th District. 

Spanberger could win by a narrow margin, according to FiveThirtyEight, but many voters see her as less trustworthy after she refused to participate in a debate against Vega, citing concerns over security and biased moderators, according to a statement from event organizers.  

Vega, who also declined to participate in a debate according to the Richmond Times Dispatch,  has focused on inflation and the economy.

“You can’t get your way out of inflation by taxing the American people,” she told ABC 7 on Oct 19. “We have to go back to the drawing board, re-evaluate our spending and the areas we can cut spending, and save some money to put some money back in the pockets of the American people.” 

Spanberger, the incumbent, has also focused on the economy. She prioritizes lowering health care costs, protecting social security and safeguarding abortion rights, according to her website

In total, FiveThirtyEight forecasts five Virginia house seats to go to Democrats, four to go to Republicans and two to be toss-ups. 

Virginia is represented in the U.S. Senate by two democrats, neither of whom are up for re-election. 

Contact city and state writer Kalina Kulig at kalina.kulig@richmond.edu.

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